In Hindu mythology, vata is represented by Shiva, the destroyer. Literally, vata is defined as “that which moves things.” It makes sense that vata is behind all movement in the universe, as it is composed of air and ether (wind in space). Vata qualities include cold, dry, mobile, subtle and rough (like the wind).
Vata is the force behind the movement of ideas, of our muscles and bones and even blood circulation. Vata is responsible for the wear and tear of everything in nature–imagine how a strong wind can blow off all the leaves on a tree. It makes sense that vata rules the fall and winter–cold and dry seasons when nature is ‘dead’. Old age is the vata time of the life cycle; you can see how vata energy predominates in many of our elders (dry, wrinkly skin, dried out, creaky joints; dry cracked lips)
In the body, vata governs movement. It’s primary location is in the large intestine, with secondary location in the nerves, bones, ears, and body cavities. On a cellular level, vata is responsible for movement of nutrients into the cell, circulation of nutrients withing the cell and movement of waste products out of the cell.
Ayurveda Vata Dosha
- That which moves things
- Movement of our bodies, our thoughts, our internal processes
- Physical Characteristics: lanky, cold hands and feet, dry skin
- Personality Characteristics: vibrant, many interests, artistic, fun, adapt quickly, travel a lot
When vata is out of balance, the chief symptom is pain. Other signs of vata excess include gas, constipation, anxiety, racing thoughts, rapid heart rate, and general inability to focus (dare I say ‘air-head’!).